Review: ‘Against the Hillside’ Is an Eye on Drone Warfare

Military drones have had an interesting effect on storytelling: They have forced writers to rethink how they portray warfare. For how do you represent invisible weapons? How do you tell of battles where combatants never face each other and death comes out of nowhere in seconds? Movies such as “Eye in the Sky” and “Good Kill” have looked at the price exacted by drones on those who remote-control them, an approach also adopted by the 2015 solo play “Grounded,” in which Anne Hathaway portrayed a pilot now dropping hellfire while sitting thousands of miles away from her targets.

Sylvia Khoury’s earnest new drama, “Against the Hillside,” looks at the effect of drones both on those who guide them and those who endure them. The show toggles between Pakistan, where the married Sayid (Babak Tafti) and Reem (Mahira Kakkar, “When January Feels Like Summer”) are constantly “listening to the sky,” and America, where one Capt. Matt Walker (Jack Mikesell) is doing the watching. Both parties live in anxiety, though of course the stakes are quite different — it’s in Pakistan that a corpse’s limbs, torn by a sudden strike, have to be recovered for a proper burial.

Matt, a pilot who took the drone job when he and his wife, Erin (Caroline Hewitt), decided to start a family, is becoming way too “invested,” as he puts it, in the Pakistani couple’s life. He is particularly fascinated by Reem, and feels as if he knows her. That’s a mistake, of course. First, he doesn’t have access to her inner life, and second, there’s a reason farmers don’t name the animals they’re raising for slaughter — being invested in your victims is a bad idea.

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J. Tomilson Hill on the Attraction of Contemporary Art

The art collector J. Tomilson Hill announced two years ago that he was establishing the Hill Art Foundation and planning an exhibition space in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, which is set to open this fall.

But in the meantime, Mr. Hill — a New York billionaire who serves as vice chairman of the Blackstone Group, running its hedge fund businesses — is offering a warm-up act of sorts in Hong Kong, in the new art-focused development H Queen’s.

“Christopher Wool: Highlights From the Hill Art Collection,” featuring 15 works, will be on view there from March 27 to April 8, overlapping with the art fair Art Basel Hong Kong. The show moves to the foundation’s New York space in September.

Mr. Hill, 70, is on the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Friends of the High Line. He and his wife, Janine, have spent decades amassing a collection of hundreds of works that includes postwar masterpieces by a dozen artists and Renaissance bronzes. Lately, the focus has been on contemporary art, particularly by American women artists and Chinese makers.

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Lower Oil Prices Force Saudis to Widen Their Circle of Friends

Saudi Arabia has long been the dominant force in oil, leaving the world at the mercy of its ambitions and its interests. Now the kingdom must refresh its strategy to reflect a weaker hand — and in many ways, a different game.

The changing nature of the energy industry — the oil production boom in American shale fields, the persistence of lower crude prices, and the rise of natural gas — has transformed the geopolitical equation.

While Saudi Arabia is still a major energy producer, it must compensate for its lost revenue. And the United States, China and Russia are all circling in hopes of gaining a financial advantage.

Russia, smarting from Western sanctions and lower oil prices, is moving to embrace Saudi Arabia for energy deals despite their rivalry in Syria, where the two countries support competing sides. China, with its domestic oil production in steep decline, seeks a stable flow not just of Saudi oil but of Saudi investment in its growing petrochemical and refinery industries.

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A Creative Director Who Defines Effortless Cool

Before Natacha Ramsay-Levi made her debut as Chloé’s creative director in September, the 38-year-old’s aesthetic was, in many ways, a mystery. Preceding her appointment to the French house, the Paris native had spent 15 years working under her mentor Nicolas Ghesquière, first at Balenciaga and then at Louis Vuitton, as his right hand and protégée. Ghesquière, Ramsay-Levi says, taught her to create with a democratic touch; arriving at Balenciaga as an intern in 2002, she was struck by his equal love for classical paintings and the music of Mariah Carey.

The confident, sexy collection she sent down the runway last fall — full of ’70s citrus and earth tones, easy prairie dresses in micro floral prints, sharply tailored A-line miniskirts and denim, and insouciant, heavy-metal combat boots — revealed Ramsay-Levi’s deep understanding (and personal mastery) of French cool-girl chic. It’s that same, endlessly worshiped je ne sais quoi that the brand was built upon, when its founder Gaby Aghion introduced Chloé — and the concept of luxury prêt-à-porter — to the world in 1952, at a time when most fashion houses were exclusively creating couture. “I always like to have something that is a bit wrong — nothing too bourgeois,” says Ramsay-Levi of her sensibility, which is informed by everything from New Wave cinema to Cycladic artifacts. “I call it vintage in the future.”

The first Frenchwoman to take the helm at Chloé since Martine Sitbon in 1987, Ramsay-Levi was raised on the Left Bank in a literary family (her father was a book and magazine editor) and now lives in the Second Arrondissement with her 5-year-old son, Balthus. She pursued her childhood fantasy of becoming an archaeologist by getting a history degree before enrolling at the esteemed fashion school Studio Berçot in 2000. There, she quickly became known as “the Balenciaga fan,” for her obsession with Ghesquière, the house’s then-creative director. Once she landed a job with him, she says, “he helped me understand that being a fashion designer is not only to design clothes, it is to develop a 360-degree vision of everything.”

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How the N.R.A. Keeps Federal Gun Regulators in Check

WASHINGTON — For years, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been overlooked in Washington. Overshadowed by more politically powerful law enforcement agencies like the F.B.I., the A.T.F. garnered headlines mostly for notorious episodes, including the deadly 1993 siege in Waco, Tex., and the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal more than a decade later.

Now, the A.T.F. is on the verge of a crisis. The agency, which has not grown significantly since its founding in 1973, is about to confront a staffing shortage and is set to lose its tobacco and alcohol enforcement authorities. President Trump has yet to nominate a director to oversee the agency, which has been without permanent leadership for eight of the past 12 years.

Amid the dearth of leadership and resources, the White House is pushing the A.T.F. to the forefront of its fight against violent crime. In response to the mass shooting at a Florida high school last week, Mr. Trump, who promised to fight violent criminal gangs and illegal guns — two of the A.T.F.’s key missions — announced that he would be relying on the bureau to regulate so-called bump stock accessories.

But it is all but politically impossible for Mr. Trump, who counts the powerful gun lobby among his most ardent supporters, to strengthen the A.T.F. The National Rifle Association has long sought to hobble the agency in an effort to curb its ability to regulate guns, which the gun lobby has traditionally opposed.

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Put This Fork to Work in the Kitchen

You need one or more big spoons in the kitchen. But a fork? Usually kitchen forks are two-pronged and fairly narrow, meant for lifting a hunk of meat or poultry or to assist with carving. This new big utility fork fills a void. It’s useful not for spearing but for mixing, mashing and stirring, and for making pastry, scrambled eggs or even guacamole. The material is heat-resistant silicone. You won’t let it out of your sight: Ultimate Fork, $9.95, surlatable.com.

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Border Wall ‘Off the Table,’ Schumer Says, as Immigration Progress Unravels

WASHINGTON — Senate negotiators found themselves back at Square 1 on immigration on Tuesday, as the Senate Democratic leader withdrew the biggest gesture he had made to strike a deal: an offer to fully fund President Trump’s proposed wall at the Mexican border.

“The wall offer’s off the table,” the leader, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, told reporters at the Capitol a day after senators overcame an impasse to end a three-day government shutdown.

Mr. Schumer’s decision to renege, made on Sunday but revealed publicly on Tuesday, marked another turn in the fluid debate over how to shield from deportation hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

As part of a deal to end the shutdown, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, promised what he called a “fair and open” immigration debate on the Senate floor.

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Hair Tip on the No. 7

Dear Diary:

I was on the No. 7 train as it hurtled along, standing and looking down at the top of the head of a younger woman sitting in front of me. I realized she had the exact champagne highlights against a natural base that I had been trying to get for years.

Should I interrupt the conversation she was involved in? I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to find the colorist who might be “the one.”

I leaned in and tapped her on the shoulder. She took out her phone and used my red pen to write the name and number of her stylist on the back of a manuscript that I was marking, and her name as well.

Two weeks later I entered a one-seat operation in the back of a shop in Long Island City. Two hours later I walked out with the hair color of my dreams — and at a reasonable price.

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